- Around 80% of millennial parents visit restaurants at least once a week, making this demographic the highest restaurant users of any group, according to Technomic data.
- Restaurant Business reports that millennial parents spend $22 at limited-service restaurants, which is twice as much as the average consumer. Further, they spend $40 at full-service restaurants, versus $25 for average diners.
- Millennial parents say a restaurant's "kid-friendliness" is the most important criteria when choosing a place to eat. They also look for robust and healthy kids meals, technology that improves the consumer experience and restaurants that offer entertainment such as video, TV or tabletop devices.
Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel and Cicis were the top three rated chains among millennial parents, with 74%, 68.2% and 64.1%, respectively, rating them as "very good" for families. Judging by the criteria, some of the remaining top 10 should be of no surprise, as they're big on ice cream, breakfast and the trusty go-to burgers and fries. They include Friendly's, First Watch, Cold Stone Creamery, Culver's, Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, Red Robin and Texas Roadhouse.
Chick-fil-A has long targeted millennial parents, introducing its "Mom's Valet" service in 2016, letting parents order at the drive-thru with their kids in the car and then go inside where a table is ready for them. In the fall, the chain added a new dine-in mobile ordering feature via its app that allows guests to order from a table in the restaurant, eliminating the need to visit the counter. Chick-fil-A also hosts events like Family Craft Night and includes a "Parent's Guide to Chick-fil-A" on its website, reminding parents that its kids meal bags turn into cow puppets, for example.
Cracker Barrel has its general store, which has a full toy inventory to entice kids. It also features a robust kids menu with smaller-sized versions of the brand's signature dishes. Cicis has the entertainment covered via an arcade, and its buffet model may also appeal to families on a tight budget or looking to host a party. The chain's marketing strategy also heavily targets kids, such as its Rise of the Turtles Tuesdays promotion earlier this year offering Ninja Turtle masks to kids each Tuesday.
Such efforts are increasingly critical as millennial parents gain spending power. This generation is expected to be the biggest food and beverage spenders within 10 years. A majority of millennial parents (90%) have ordered takeout at least once per week, according to Technomic. Further, millennials with kids increased their restaurant visits by 5% in 2018 over 2017, according to The NPD Group.
Perhaps as evidenced by Chick-fil-A's tech initiatives, restaurant chains can woo these consumers with more than just arcades and indoor playgrounds. Convenience no doubt has more of an influence than in the past, especially for parents, so it's important to find that sweet spot alongside food and entertainment. Especially now, as half of millennials now spend more on dining out than they're saving.